Cattle ranches, orange groves, sugar cane fields and houses are the backdrop as the Caloosahatchee River works its way upstream to Lake Okeechobee. We spent the night near La Belle, tied up at a private dock at the home of my brother’s friend.
Frost on the handrails and hot coffee up at the house punctuated the morning. The “Traveler” has heat, powered by heat strips, but only when the generator is running. As the boat is constructed with fiberglass and there is no insulation, the cabin generally runs three to five degrees warmer than the outside during the colder months. We had run the generator for most of the night and were able to keep cozy enough against the freezing exterior temperatures.
Though cold in the morning, this sunny day unfolded to one delight after another. In the last few miles before Lake Okeechobee, two locks take you up towards the level of the lake. The first, at Ortona, lifts boats eight feet and the second at Moore Haven has a one foot lift.
After Moore Haven we entered the wonderland that is Lake Okeechobee. Yes, of course there are alligators, and many of them, lurking at the edge of the canal that leads to Clewiston. To starboard, you can only see the well-mowed levee; to port is a marshy land filled with water birds and critters. Our adrenalin ran high as we spotted and identified one species after another within the same area or perched on the same tree. Bob said it best when he likened the numbers and types of birds to a diorama that one might see on display.
One joy of traveling in a trawler is that it is by definition slow. And by taking our time, we are able to capture and cherish those many moments in nature that we are blessed to glimpse.
We tied up at Roland Martin’s marina at Clewiston. Here we will take a day off from traveling to catch-up on some projects and to wait for fair weather to cross Lake Okeechobee. The lake is renowned for its short choppy waves in windy weather and after our rocky Gulf crossing in November, we yearned to see some big water that was positively placid. So here we sit, talking about the marvelous sights of the day and looking forward to more of this amazing part of Florida.